Gaza strike shuts first day of school for more than 200,000
JERUSALEM, Israel - A strike by teachers and personnel in the Gaza Strip kept more than 200,000 children from returning to school for the new term Monday, as the UN agency that employs them struggles financially.
Several thousand teachers, assistants and administrative personnel protested in front of the headquarters of UNWRA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees.
The union for UNRWA staff in Gaza, the Palestinian territory hit hard by three wars in six years, an Israeli blockade and economic crisis, called for the protest with some employees at risk of losing jobs due to a lack of financing.
Out of a population of 1.8 million in Gaza, some 1.26 million are refugees, according to UN figures. UNRWA oversees education for most children - some 225,000 in 245 schools.
Dozens of schools were damaged and affected by last summer's war between Palestinian militants in Gaza and Israel.
UNRWA, mainly financed by state members of the United Nations, has struggled with money shortages for years.
The agency had raised the possibility of delaying the start of this school year and laying off some of its staff for a year due to a lack of contributions from international donors.
New financial support allowed UNRWA to freeze those plans, but its employees are demanding that they be dropped entirely. - Rappler.com